- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 8, 2002

George Washington was in position for a stunning upset yesterday. The Colonials had established the fast tempo they desired and had second-ranked Texas on the run. GW was within two points with less than six minutes to play.
However, that's when the Colonials' shot at becoming giant-killers was squashed by the Longhorns' giant, James Thomas.
The physical center scored 12 of his career-high 26 points in the final five minutes to lead Texas to a 100-92 victory in the first round of the BB&T; Classic at MCI Center. The 6-foot-8, 230-pound junior made 10 of 11 shots and had a game-high 10 rebounds.
"He looks like one of those [WWE] wrestlers," Colonials coach Karl Hobbs said. "He really understands what he is. His job is to rebound, set screens, post up and dunk the basketball. That's exactly what he did."
Thomas had 20 points in the second half after playing only nine minutes in the first because of back spasms. The Longhorns (5-0) will put the highest ranking in the program's history on the line this afternoon when they face Notre Dame, which upset No.9 Maryland 79-67, for the tournament title.
GW (3-2) saw its three-game winning streak snapped and will face the Terps in the consolation.
Texas outrebounded the Colonials 41-29 and had 18 offensive rebounds, often resulting in easy baskets. The Longhorns shot 61 percent in the second half. The game was marred by 66 fouls, which resulted in 77 free throws.
"There was never a flow to the game," Texas coach Rick Barnes said. "Every time you turned around, there was a whistle."
GW, which shot 51 percent, went after Texas with an aggressive man-to-man defense that set up breaks for the Colonials. However, that left openings and gave the Longhorns rebounding opportunities.
Chris Monroe led GW with 26 points, but it was point guard T.J. Thompson who kept his team close on the fastbreak and slashes to the basket. The sophomore finished with a career-high 24 points, six assists and five rebounds. He neutralized Texas' standout point guard, T.J. Ford, who totaled 16 points, eight assists and seven rebounds before fouling out with 3:45 remaining.
"I was just taking what the defense gave me," said Thompson, whose previous high was 12 points against Bucknell. "Coach had told me to be a little bit more aggressive, but mainly it was just there, and I took it."
The Colonials' fullcourt press and decision to run on offense seemed to rattle the Longhorns. GW, which forced 14 turnovers and shot 50 percent in the first half, led 45-43 at halftime, but Texas took the lead for good early in the second when Brandon Mouton's 3-pointer made it 48-47.
However, GW still had a chance late. Pops Mensah-Bonsu cut Texas' lead to 70-67 on a fastbreak layup off Thompson's assist. Monroe was fouled on a 3-point attempt and hit all three free throws to make it 74-72 with 5:21 left.
That's when the Longhorns' bulk took its toll.
Ford scored on a reverse layup, and GW's Greg Collucci sank one of two free throws to make it 76-73. Texas got three shots on its next possession, and Brian Boddicker finished it with an easy layup. After a GW turnover, Ford's entry pass set up an easy dunk for Thomas, who was fouled and converted the foul shot to make it 81-73 with 3:53 remaining.
"It really came down to their experience, them knowing exactly what to execute and get the shot they wanted," Hobbs said. "We really did a great job defending their perimeter guys. And as soon as the game was right on the line two possessions or maybe three possessions in a row, they went right inside."
The Longhorns scored on their final 15 possessions, mainly from short range, with Thomas leading the grinding inside game.
"We wore them down," Barnes said. "We felt going in that we could take it inside. We weren't going to settle against their pressure to shoot 3s. We weren't going to do that. We felt we could attack, whether we post fed it or whether we took it off the dribble."

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